First Posted: 4/10/2009
Even though everyone else is on spring break, students with North Surrys Future Farmers of America were busy at the school Friday selling plants.
After months of hard work and patience, students have seen their project grow into a money making venture.
Aaron Tompkins, Future Farmers of America advisor at North Surry, is teaching young minds the love of horticulture. His students have learned how to plant seeds, how to take care of the young seedlings, how to market the plants and how to know when to sell the plants.
They sold their first plants in early March and are now close to selling out. Tompkins said students were busy with customers in the greenhouse all afternoon Friday, but there are still plants left to sell.
Today is the last day of the sale. Students will be available to help customers from 12 to 2 p.m.
FFA is offering 42 different vegetable and flowering plants. A four pack of vegetable seedlings is $1 and a six pack costs $1.25. Flowering plants are being offered for $2 for a four pack and $2.50 for a six pack. Potted plants are $1.
This gives the kids hands-on experience and helps them win scholarship money, Tompkins said. They also want to compete at regional, state and even at the national level. This money will help pay for that trip next year.
The teacher said the students pored over seed catalogs to pick out which plants and vegetables they wanted to grow.
The hardest thing they have had to do so far was to plant the smallest seeds. They found out how hard it is to plant just one or two seeds when you have 500 to 1,000 little seeds in your hand.
Southern States, Tractor Supply and Rogers Realty and Auction company all helped with donations of seeds, soil and materials or financial contributions.
Customers can pay when they pick up their orders at the greenhouse next to the football field behind the school. Those who just want to browse the selection of plants are welcome as well, Tompkins said.
Weve got all type of plants and vegetables. Weve got herbs. Weve still got strawberries and cabbage and broccoli. Weve got hanging baskets, too, Tompkins said.
Senior John Parsons said he has been interested in horticulture ever since he started high school. But he wishes that Tompkins had been with him the whole way.
Hes done more with us in one year than anyone else. Before, we never even got our hands dirty. But thats not how I learn. I learn best by doing. I cant learn just by reading a book. This is a lot better, Parsons said.
He said his father is in the landscaping business and until this year he hasnt had any interest in what his father does for a living.
But now that I have learned all of this, I want to help him. I have enjoyed this so much that I will be coming back next year to help Mr. Tompkins, Parsons added, saying he is now thinking of pursuing horticulture as a career. He also is growing plants at home in a cold frame.
We are having fun and learning at the same time, Parsons concluded.
Student Matthew Stanley echoed Parsons comments.
Before this, I didnt know what the different plants are. Ive done landscaping for four summers now and I never enjoyed it. I havent taken horticulture until this year. It was amazing to see how fast everything has grown. Ive never been into plants. I told Mr. Tompkins the first day that Im not into plants, but now I cant get enough of it, Stanley said.
He is also growing plants at home in the yard.
The flower beds as big as this greenhouse, he said.
He says he will also come back next year to help Tompkins.
Vegetable plants for sale at the school include various tomatoes such as Jubille Yellow, Rutgers Red, Sun Leaper-red, Small Sugary-red, Big Rainbow; cabbage, including Tropic Giant and Red; yellow squash; several varieties of peppers including California Wonder, banana, jalapeno, hot red and yellow wax; zucchini squash; cauliflower; broccoli, cucumber; sage, rosemary; basil and mint.
Flowering plants include: Ageratum blue, Snapdragon-dwarf mixed colors, red Impatients; Delphinium-fountains mix; Petunia lilac; Petunia rose; Petunia Coral Reef Mix; Impatients red and white; Impatients hybrid mix; Pentas, red, Aquilegia, origami mix; Hibiscus, Disco Belle Red; Shasta Daisy, Snow Lady; Lilum White Lance; Marigold, yellow; Marigold, orange; Geranium -Apple Blossoms; Geranium, red; Forget-me-nots; Bachelor Buttons; Johnny Jump-ups; Zinnias in 4-inch pots.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.